WASHINGTON (Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011) - U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced legislation Thursday to make the fraudulent sale of maple syrup a felony offense. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The bill is called the Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement (MAPLE) Act.
"Vermonters take pride in the natural products our state produces, and I have been alarmed by the growing number of individuals and businesses claiming to sell Vermont maple syrup when they are in fact selling an inferior product that is not maple syrup at all," said Leahy. "This is fraud, plain and simple, and it undermines a key part of Vermont's economy. I know that hardworking syrup producers in Maine, New York and other states have been similarly hurt by this crime. Our bill will deter this criminal conduct."
"Maine is the third largest producer of pure maple syrup in the country, producing more than 360,000 gallons this year, and bringing in nearly $11 million to our state each year," said Collins. "Fake labeling not only hurts this growing agricultural industry, but also defrauds consumers who have the right to know exactly what they are purchasing."
"We are very proud of the high-quality maple syrup produced in Vermont," said Sanders. "Some of us think it's the best in the world. We think it is terribly wrong for people to produce a phony product and call it Vermont maple syrup."
The MAPLE Act creates a felony offense carrying a five-year maximum penalty for fraudulently selling maple syrup that is not, in fact, maple syrup. Under current law, the sale of this fraudulent maple syrup is only a misdemeanor offense carrying only on a one-year penalty. Vermont U.S. Attorney Tris Coffin recently sought an indictment against a Rhode Island man who, as revealed by a Food and Drug Administration investigation, was selling cane sugar-based syrup as "maple" syrup.
The MAPLE Act is cosponsored by New York Senators Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D).